Carpeting 101

A home full of wall-to-wall carpet exudes elegance and comfort –for some reason it makes me think of strolling through the house in my bare feet with a glass of wine in my hand.  If you’re considering wall-to-wall carpet for a redecorating project, it may be just the ticket – particularly if covering plain or damaged flooring. 

Location, Location, Location

For carpet in areas with high foot traffic – particularly the hallways and stairs – you’ll need dense, low pile carpeting.  Run your hand over a sample piece, if you can see the backing easily, it’s not dense enough for a high traffic location.  Low pile is less pile to hold dirt and look worn, choose pile that’s under ½ inch.

What is it? 

The material of the carpet is an important factor as well. 

Wool – Wool carpeting is top of the line and it shows – both in the price and in its looks.   If you are going high end, wool is not only fade and crush resistant, but  is a ‘cleaner’ carpeting for those with allergies – it’s not only more hypoallergenic, but is bacteria and mold resistant.

Polypropylene is a synthetic fiber – also called by its brand name Olefin – that’s a budget alternative when choosing carpeting – it’s colorfast and soft to the touch.  On the other hand, it holds any type of grease and oil and tends to darken and look flat in more high traffic areas.  It’s the least durable of the three options, and should only be considered for low traffic areas.

Nylon carpeting makes up nearly 60% of the carpeting sold in the U.S.  It’s durable, colorfast and easier to maintain than Olefin. 
When wool is out of your price range, as it is for most of us, choose nylon and avoid Olefin, unless it’s for a rental apartment in which you plan to replace carpeting on a regular basis anyway.

Now for the Hard Part!

Now that you know the type and material you’ll be looking for it – you’ll now have about 1000 colors to choose from.  Don’t sit in a well-lit home and choose a wall-to-wall carpet for your dining room, which will probably be seen in dim, candlelight. 

Most specialty flooring stores, carpet stores and even the big box stores such as Lowes and Home Depot will allow you take home a sample book.  Some will ask you for a small deposit or identification to sign it out to you.  Try the sample in various rooms with types of lighting and during different times of the day and evening.   Don’t stand there and stare at the carpet, you’ll go blind or change your mind 100 times.  Leave it on the floor, walk away from it and enter the room to see the impact, how it enhances the furniture and if it works with the wall color.

And as for wall color, make sure you do any painting for a home makeover BEFORE having the new carpet installed.